For awhile, it looked like the Syracuse University football staff was done recruiting the wide receiver position for the 2016 cycle. With Sadiq Palmer in the mix and Frank Darby and Brad Hawkins opting for Iowa and Michigan, respectively, it appeared that the Orange were shifting the recruiting focus to other areas of need. But as Scout.com’s Mike McAllister reported last week, that thinking might change now that Donald Stewart has insisted he’s still high on Syracuse.
I’m just going to get this out of the way up front: there’s no wide receiver target in the 2016 class I’ve been hoping to land more than Stewart, a 6-foot-4, 185 pound New Jersey native who seems to be favoring Stanford and Michigan. Stewart called Stanford a “dream offer” and has seemed high on Michigan ever since a visit to campus in the spring. Before that, though, it appeared he was actually favoring Syracuse.
To be perfectly honest, back in, oh, late March or early April, I had actually prepared an article on a commitment from Stewart, because for awhile there that seemed like a very likely possibility. And then the Michigan love started and the Stanford offer came in, and I wrote off any chance of landing the talented receiver from Paramus Catholic. At this point, however, while Stewart hasn’t officially trimmed his list it appears his top three are pretty firmly Stanford, Michigan, and Syracuse, with the Orange holding steady in third place.
So what could that mean for the Orange? Well, I’m guessing Stanford is the top choice, but it’s awfully difficult to get accepted there (just ask former SU receiver Jarrod West), so depending on Stewart’s grades (and he could very well have the grades to make it) it might not actually be a realistic landing spot. As far as Michigan is concerned, the Wolverines already have 21 players committed, though Hawkins is the only receiver thus far. Still, there may not be much room left at the Inn, and Stewart doesn’t appear to be in any particular rush to make a choice, so that could work out in Syracuse’s favor.
If Stanford and Michigan drop off the map as realistic destinations for Stewart, it puts the Orange in a tremendous spot. Stewart has plenty of other offers, including Northwestern, Boston College, Maryland, Pitt, Rutgers, Iowa, and Illinois, with Northwestern potentially being the next biggest threat to land his services.
Stewart is a big, athletic target at wide receiver. While he doesn’t have elite speed (Scout lists his time at 4.65 in the 40), he’s got sensational hands and body control. He’s also a terrific route runner and, if you watch his film, will plainly see he routinely makes circus catches, including in traffic and while well defended. If he can improve his speed – and there’s absolutely no reason to believe he won’t be able to – he could very easily become an NFL-caliber receiver by the time his college career is finished.